Ideology and commodity fetishism: Reinaldo Arenas's Otra vez el mar

Palabras clave

Reinaldo Arenas
Otra vez el mar
enemigo de Fidel Castro
anti comunismo revisionista

Cómo citar

Náter, M. Ángel. (2022). Ideology and commodity fetishism: Reinaldo Arenas’s Otra vez el mar. Revista De Estudios Hispánicos, (1-2), 241–257. Recuperado a partir de


Reinaldo Arenas was an enemy of Fidel Castro and the revisionist communism associated with him. But this does not necessarily exclude the possibility of a creative engagement with Marxism in his works and a Marxist interpretation of them. In his autobiography Antes que anochezca Arenas denies having any political affiliation:

"Por otra parte, nunca me he considerado ser ni de izquierda ni de derecha, ni quiero que se me catalogue bajo ninguna etiqueta oportunista y política; yo digo mi verdad, lo mismo que un judío que haya sufrido el racismo o un ruso que haya estado en un gulag, o cualquier ser humano que haya tenido ojos para ver las cosas tal como son; grito, luego, existo."

This apolitical stance can be regarded as an autobiographical figuration of self that conceals an engagement with Marxism that is most evident in Arenas's novels. As Sylvia Molloy has observed, "Spanish American autobiographers are most efficient self-censors who, within their life stories, map out silences that point to the untellable-and often tell what they feel cannot be told autobiographically in other, less compromising texts." Arenas had no reason to be amicably disposed to the left, as he was treated like a pariah in Cuba, and like an outcast by pro-Castro leftists in the United States. Even though he had good reason to reject what he describes as the left in Antes que anochezca, the influence of Marxist thought is noticeable in much of his work. This may seem to be paradoxical in a writer who declared himself to be an enemy of communism, but what is unequivocally rejected in Arenas's texts is not Marxism as such, but what he considers to be the failed attempts to create communist societies in Cuba and elsewhere, and the supporters and apologists for these attempts. The end of the 20th century is once again a time of proletarian revolution that will produce renewed attempts to create communist societies. Within this context, the critique of revisionism contained in Otra vez el mar is particularly relevant.



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